Rose: I was attacked by a... pencil scribble?
The one with a magic nursery rhyme.
Written by Matthew Graham.
The Doctor takes Rose to see the opening ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics, landing in a neighbourhood of outer London. They quickly find a few things amiss: children and pets have gone missing, and a road crew, preparing for the running of the Olympic torch through the area, is baffled by a spot in the road that causes cars passing over it to stall out. As they examine the area, they are attacked by... a ball made from squiggly lines?
After dealing with the ball, the Doctor uses his cheerful nature to quickly identify the problems coming from the home of Trish and her daughter Chloe. Chloe seems aloof and separated from the real world, focusing on drawings that cover her walls; Trish attributes it to her troubled childhood with her dad years ago. Rose looks at the drawings and swears that she saw one move.
The Doctor quickly identifies that Chloe has been taken by an alien lifeform, an Isolus, normally part of billions traveling through space but stranded alone on Earth from a solar flare. To cope, it has formed a psychic bond with the lonely and depressed Chloe, giving her the power to trap people and objects in pictures that she draws; it also allows her to bring such pictures to life, as briefly evidenced by the monstrous drawing of her father in the back of her closet. Fortunately, the solution is simple: they just have to find the Isolus pod, provide it power to reactivate it, and the Isolus will have a way to rejoin its own family. Easy, right?
The Doctor and Rose go to the TARDIS, and the Doctor builds a detector to locate the Isolus pod. Oh, and the Doctor off-handedly tells her (and reminds the audience) that he was a dad once. Rose doesn't look like she was prepared for that. They start to head back to the street, Rose walking in front, and there is a crash of glass. Rose turns to find both the TARDIS and the Doctor have vanished.
Rose rushes back to Trish and Chloe's house to find that, indeed, Chloe has trapped the Doctor and the TARDIS in a picture, and refuses to release him.
Rose returns to the street and recalls the area on the road. Finding it warm, she digs it out with a pickaxe grabbed from the road worker's van and finds the Isolus pod, no larger than her fist. Now she just needs a power source.
The broadcast of the opening ceremonies has started, but Chloe, still angry, draws out the entire crowd at the scene; the announcers are stunned when the entire crowd disappears. But Chloe is not done yet and, clearing away a section of the wall, starts drawing the entire planet Earth. Rose tries to get Chloe to stop without success, but she spots the Doctor's picture, where he points to the Olympic torch. Rose understands and races outside, throwing the pod at the passing torch. The Isolus says goodbye to Chloe, departs her body, and reunites with the pod, and all of the disappearances begin to reverse: the children, the stadium audience...
...and Chloe's horrific drawing of her father. As they flee from the animated figure, Trish and Rose are able to calm Chloe enough to dispel the drawing, leaving them safe.
Rose has yet to see hide or hair of the Doctor, despite the pictures being empty. Meanwhile, the torch runner approaches the stadium but stumbles, dropping the torch before it is picked up by a familiar-looking man the Doctor. He runs the last leg of the torch to the Olympic flame and lights it; combined with the emotional response from the ceremony, it gives the Isolus pod enough energy to take off into space.
Sometime later, the Doctor has reunited with Rose, saying goodbye to Trish and Chloe, and taking off to watch the Games together. Rose comments that their companionship can never be separated, but the Doctor fears that a storm is coming.
For the next six years, David Tennant was expected to show up for the real deal, with even groups on Facebook and petitions asking for it. In the end, Tennant was not involved. However, a different incarnation of the Doctor has indeed carried the 2012 Olympic torch for a leg.
- Abusive Parents: Chloe's dead/reborn-as-a-scribble dad. Based on his red drawing, he was a real terror.
- Adults Are Useless: Chloe's mother Trish in a nutshell. She's given only one job to do; keep an eye on Chloe and prevent her from trapping people in drawings. So naturally, she decides to wander off twice! Rose calls her out on her stupidity.
- Apocalypse How: After apparently not seeing a stadium full of people as being enough, the Isolus inhabiting Chloe eventually tries to capture the entire Earth in a drawing so it won't be alone, while on the planet. Disaster is averted with only moments to spare before she finished it.
- Arc Words: "... the battle of Torchwood."
- Art Attacker: Chloe/the alien traps people into her pictures.
- Attack of the Killer Whatever: Attack of the killer drawings.
- Axe Before Entering: Rose uses a pick to break through Chloe's bedroom door.
- Big "SHUT UP!": "FINGERS ON LIPS!"
- Bottle Episode: A nearly FX-free episode (some lights and banging, animation, a monster that's just a big ball of wire and a single shot of a CGI jellyfish). It was a last-minute affair to take the place of a planned episode by Stephen Fry which fell through.
- Breather Episode: Word of God says that the first choice of Matthew Graham, the episode's writer, was a big, epic story with spaceships and whatnot, but RTD specifically asked for this episode to be light and kid-friendly to contrast with the dark season finale (not to mention that the special effects budget was starting to run low).
- Characterization Marches On: This was both David Tennant's first season and a late-addition script, so Ten's characterisation here is very non-specific Doctor-y, from being overly jovial in the face of parents whose children have disappeared to helping himself to marmalade in someone else's house (an action better suited to wackier Doctors like Two, Four, Seven, Eleven or Thirteen).
- Chewing the Scenery: "IT'S YOUR FATHER, AND I'M COMING TO HURT YOU."
- Continuity Nod:
- Crazy-Prepared: Chloe has pens hidden all around her room, which comes in handy for her when her mother confiscates them.
- Creepy Child: Chloe draws people and then they disappear off the face of Earth. She threatens to do that to her mother...
- Curse Cut Short:The Doctor: Come on, you were a kid once.
Rose: Yeah, and I know what kids are like. Right little sh... terrors.
- Cuteness Proximity: Rose, on seeing a cat walking about the street. The Doctor briefly thinks she's talking about him, and is put out on realising the truth. For his part, he's not interested in the cat, after having been threatened by the Sisters of Plenitude.
- Dated History: No, Papua New Guinea didn't take the gold in the shotput come the actual 2012 games. It went to Poland.
- Empathy Doll Shot: Shamelessly exploited by the Crime Crackers reality TV host in the one-minute "TARDISode" teaser that aired in the lead-up to "Fear Her"'s broadcast.
- Expy: The Isolus was inspired by the villains in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).
- Everybody Lives: Since the Monster of the Week doesn't kill anyone, nobody dies this time.
- Finger Muzzle: The Doctor makes a group of arguing people do this to themselves to get them to shut up.
- Full-Name Basis: The alien constantly refers to her own host as Chloe Webber.
- Great Detective: Rose's deductive skills, which grow over the course of her arc, are demonstrated in this episode, in which she, as opposed to the Doctor, is the one who figures out that there is something wrong in the first place and that the source of the children disappearing is Chloe Webber by process of deduction.
- Hates Being Alone: The Isolus usually has four billion siblings that all support each other with love, so naturally it despises how alone it is and does whatever it can for more company.
- Hope Spot: Rose manages to get the pod into the Olympic torch, and the alien goes home right before it traps the whole world in one of Chloe's drawings... but there's still no sign of the Doctor, and Chloe's drawing of her abusive father comes to life and tries to attack her.
- Impersonating an Officer: When the Doctor is caught snooping in Tom's front garden trying to find out what happened to Dale Hicks (who disappeared there), he attempts to claim that he and Rose are cops. Tom's dad is skeptical, pointing out that the Doctor doesn't "look or sound like" any of the actual cops who've shown up.
- Insert Double: A hand double for Abisola Agbaje drew the pictures.
- It's All About Me: The alien threatens and disposes of anyone (and nearly everyone) that comes between it and Chloe, even willing to threaten Chloe herself with her worst nightmare to keep them together. Its last words before going home are telling Chloe it loves her... and then leaves her to her fate with the scary drawing of her father that it created.
- It's Always Spring: Inverted: During the run-up to the Summer Olympics, we can see the actors' breath outside, revealing that the episode was filmed in January and February. The visible breath is discussed in-episode as a plot point the Isolus pod is sucking in all the heat.
- Karma Houdini: The Isolus never suffers any consequences for nearly trapping the entire planet in a sheet of paper.
- Kids Are Cruel: Rose argues this as she and the Doctor discuss his sympathy for Chloe and the alien. The alien itself draws up Chloe's abusive father to protect herself from the Doctor... though it's heavily implied Chloe willingly drew it alongside her to keep her protected.
- Licensed Game: "Art Attack" from the official BBC website was based on the episode, where the Doctor has to go through a maze to connect the dots, while avoiding the Scribbles.
- Lighter and Softer: This episode serves as the calm before the storm that is the two-parter series finale in which the Doctor and Rose are traumatically separated.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Isolus normally have company in the billions, all mutually sustaining each other with love, so when one is isolated and deprived it goes round the bend.
- Meaningful Name: The Isolus whose motivating demon is loneliness (isolation).
- Newscaster Cameo: BBC newsreader Huw Edwards played the Olympic opening commentator, although he was credited for playing the role of the "Commentator". (Six years later, Huw Edwards did indeed commentate on the London Olympics opening ceremony.)
- Next Sunday A.D.: Aired in 2006, set in 2012.
- Nightmare Fuel Colouring Book: Chloe has drawings of her abusive dad, and of every missing kid in town on her walls... and it's because she drew them that they're missing to begin with. It gets worse when the picture of the abusive dad actually comes to life. The first time it comes to life is after a tense period when Rose tried to find out what's inside a closet. When she opens it, the picture glows red and growls, much the same way a screamer would do in something like the Ghost Car video. The second time, it actually escapes from the closet that it had been drawn inside and walked towards them, intent on abusing them from beyond the grave.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The drawing-come-to-life of Chloe's father is never shown. All we get is some red light and shadows, banging on a door, and his shouted threats to Chloe and her mother.
- One-Book Author: The sole acting credit for Abisola Agbaje (Chloe).
- Portal Picture: Chloe has the ability to convert people into crayon drawings.
- Posthumous Character: Chloe's father died a year before all this alien business started.
- The Power of Love: The Monster of the Week needs it they're children who need to be loved, or they'll die without it.
- Spooky Painting: The girl's drawings both come to life, and draw people into them.
- Standard Snippet: "Kookaburra" keeps popping up as a recurring song in the episode, which Chloe most often sings. Most notably, she and her mother sing it to destroy the drawing of her abusive father.
- A Storm Is Coming: The Doctor and Rose randomly stop to point at a coming storm at the end, in clear foreshadowing to the events of the Season Finale. It was later noted that the storm being foreshadowed had technically occurred several years previously, thanks to the Timey-Wimey Ball.
- Tempting Fate: "They keep on trying to split us up, but they never ever will. [ ] We'll always be okay, you and me." You just had to say it, Rose.
- Vagueness Is Coming: The Doctor announces a storm at the end.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Despite telling Chloe outright it loves her, the alien instantly dumps her and leaves her to deal with its recreation of her father alone as soon as it can go home. Somewhat subverted in that the alien is a child that doesn't fully understand the consequences of what it's doing (there was no malice in any of it, it just can't handle being alone because it's used to a family with billions of siblings), it only has the one chance to get back to its own family, and it has to leave right then. It's also hinted that the alien leaving is what caused the recreation of Chloe's father to go away as it got out of range, as it was its power that was doing it to begin with. Chloe rejecting it just made it go quicker than it otherwise would have.